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Strength From the Team: How Peer Learning Saves Executives

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Strength From the Team: How Peer Learning Saves Executives

It’s tough carrying the weight of a small to medium-sized business on your shoulders, let alone the weight of a large corporation. Few understand the challenges involved in being a CEO, and even fewer are equipped to help.

Many in leadership positions are tempted to quit thanks to the constant complexities of business in a post-pandemic world, including remote work, tech disruptions, an unpredictable economy, supply chain issues and geopolitical conflicts. In 2022, 70% of high-level executives considered quitting their jobs, and in 2023, more than 1,500 followed through.

The numbers paint a grim picture: America’s business leaders are tired, overwhelmed, and ready to throw in the towel. But it doesn’t have to be this way – for executives in peer learning groups, it’s possible not only to survive but thrive.

The Strength of Each Player is Their Team

11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson once remarked, “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Today, executives often find themselves acting as the source of strength for their business without a team that lends them strength in return. In the face of mounting challenges, they lack the feedback they need to adapt and improve. The executives who are most likely to persevere are the ones who find shared purpose, mentorship, and camaraderie with peers in their same position.

In recent decades, peer learning groups have brought business leaders together from diverse backgrounds and industries. Together, they become a collaborative team, tackling problems, sharing insights, and providing each other with the honest feedback that can be so difficult to obtain from co-workers, board members, and coaches. 

But does it work? To state it modestly, the evidence says “yes”. 

Outcomes of Peer Learning

In a recent survey of more than 2,500 executives conducted by C12 Business Forums, we asked how participation in peer learning groups had affected their business results. Their answers were overwhelmingly positive:

  • 98% reported implementation of best business practices
  • 83% reported improved planning disciplines
  • 94% reported clarity on personal purpose
  • 70% reported gains in profitability
  • 75% reported better work/life balance

So, what is it about peer learning that not only leads to improved business performance, but improved planning, discipline and resilience for executives?

Why Peer Learning Works

Today, up to 39% of executives are involved in some form of executive coaching, which involves consistent meetings with an experienced and trusted mentor. But while executive coaching can provide much needed guidance, it also suffers from drawbacks that peer learning improves on. For instance: 

  • More combined experience – one executive coach may have 50 years of experience – but get 10-15 people together in one room who each have 20 years of experience individually, and you now have 200+ years of collective experience to glean from.
  • More up-to-date experience – a seasoned coach will have evergreen business experience, but that doesn’t mean they will understand AI, remote working, and the other technological complexities of today’s world. In aggregate, a peer learning group will have up-to-date experience in multiple areas where CEOs need guidance.
  • Scope of experience – executive coaching will tend to reflect insights gained from one industry, or a small handful of related industries at best. Peer learning groups bring together executives from businesses across many industries which curb the blind spots and knowledge gaps that come from overspecialization.

Each member in a peer group sees one small piece of a larger picture which the others are likely to miss. During times of rising market complexity, knowledge sharing helps them to adapt more rapidly than executives who rely solely on a coach – or worse, on nobody.

What Makes a Good Peer Learning Group?

The peer learning model is so successful that participants are likely to see their business grow or outperform peers during times of downturn, even when other businesses are losing. Even so, not all peer groups are equal, and some can amount to elaborate networking events that provide less value to participants.

Our survey respondents cited three factors that most contributed to successful peer group participation and longevity:

  1. Camaraderiehalf of CEOs feel lonely in the course of their careers, and of this group, 61% believe it hinders their performance. A good peer group fosters a much-needed sense of camaraderie between participants, arising from shared struggles, outlook and work-life circumstances.
  2. Accountability – executives, like anyone else, are more likely to achieve their goals when they share those goals with others and stay accountable. Meanwhile, holding one’s peers accountable provides motivation for everyone else when they succeed, and valuable lessons when they do not.
  3. Quality of peers – quality of peers has much to do with the criteria for admission to a peer group, including company size and annual revenue requirements. Invitation-only peer groups will also focus on finding participants who share similar values, goals and worldviews.

Surprisingly, effective accountability turned out to be the most predictive factor of a high-value peer group experience. Accountability mechanisms – including frameworks for actionable goals, performance tracking and peer insights – are catalysts for consistent progress that almost guarantee improved business results over time.

Purpose Driven Learning

In today’s purpose economy, executives are not only trying to raise their bottom line, but also to align business operations with their personal values and beliefs. Peers who share the same outlook not only provide a stronger sense of camaraderie – they are also more likely to provide impactful advice and feedback that other group members can feel confident acting on.

Fortunately, executives have many options to choose from. Tracking with the rise of faith-based investing, membership across faith-based peer groups has doubled over the past five years, while membership across all peer groups has increased by 75%.

The Best Time to Join a Peer Group is Now

It’s probably not true to say that there has never been a more difficult time for executives in America – but it’s definitely true that there has never been a better time to join a peer group. By doing so, business leaders can not only find strength for themselves: they can also contribute to the future, make a difference across multiple industries and form a team that makes all of its players stronger.

Author Information:

Mike Sharrow serves as the CEO of C12 Business Forums, the world’s largest peer-learning organization for Christian CEOs, business owners, and executives. Since assuming the role of CEO in 2016, Mike has led C12 to achieve remarkable growth, including more than 220% increase in membership and an impressive 240% increase in Chairs globally. C12 currently serves over 4,100 members spanning the United States, Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Africa.

team benefits

How to Effectively Scale Your Team in a Changing Working Environment

Scaling a business is no easy feat, as it requires well-thought strategies, new resources and team members, and a wide range of processes to make the organization tick as it should.

In the last 25 years or so, small businesses in the US have generated about 13 million new jobs. But the reality is that – whether big or small – not all companies manage to scale successfully, with common mistakes being attempting to grow too fast, overlooking systems to drive efficiency, and hiring new people just for the sake of it.

That said, don’t let this statistic put you off. In an ever-changing working environment, what steps can you take to evolve your organization in a balanced, efficient way?

Here, Dominic Fitch, Head of Creative Change at Impact, a world-class expert in leadership development, looks at useful tips for companies hoping to expand their teams and offerings.

Set out roles and responsibilities

As your business and teams enlarge, it is only natural for roles and responsibilities to shift, too.

Of course, in smaller teams of two or three people, keeping an eye on everybody’s duties is more manageable. But as the headcount increases, it can be tricky to determine on a daily basis what each team member should do.

In this respect, clearly defining expectations from the off, as well as everyone’s individual responsibilities, is crucial when scaling your team.

As more people join the business, roles can get muddled up, and employees might not be aware of who’s doing what. Not only does this have an impact on the efficiency of your people, but it can also add unnecessary stress and cause burnout.

So, as your company undergoes a period of change, it’s crucial to inform your employees about what they are responsible for. This will help them feel more confident about their skills, allowing them to crack on with their tasks without wondering what exactly they should be doing.

Should there be hiccups along the way, let your people know it is not the end of the world. Scaling your business is all about stumbling and making mistakes together while also identifying ways to work through those new challenges and processes.

Invest in tech and automate admin tasks

It has been found that, on average, workers spend about 40% of their workday dealing with digital admin processes. This is a fair chunk of time which, instead, could be dedicated to more productive, stimulating tasks.

Investing in technology to help automate repeatable processes, such as appointment scheduling and payroll preparation, can give you a massive hand when scaling your business. As well as saving precious time to focus on duties that require more thought and attention, it can also ensure that employees are taking full advantage of their skills and talent.

What’s more, tech tools can allow you to keep up to speed with trends in the world of business. Surveys show that 98% of US workers want to work remotely at least some of the time. Technology provides the perfect platforms for your people to carry out their jobs from the comfort of their own homes.

In addition to offering further flexibility to your growing workforce, technology allows you to hire remote part-timers or freelancers and create a talent pool of people who can chip in when required.

Hire sensibly

As you look to add more people to your organization in a short space of time, it is easy to fall into the temptation to prioritize quantity over quality. But when it comes to hiring new team members, there is nothing worse than bringing in people who – for whatever reason – are simply not the right fit for the role.

In fact, a ‘bad’ hire can slow down the development of a potentially efficient team while delaying the overall growth of your business.

There are many aspects that, through no fault of their own, make a person not the perfect candidate for a company. Some may not have the relevant experience or skills, whereas others may not have the personality to suit a specific position or match the workplace culture.

So, even though you need to increase your team urgently, don’t rush the hiring process. Instead, ensure you employ someone who ticks all the right boxes. With the right talent on board, you will be able to sail through your scaling period and reach the goals you’ve set.

Don’t forget to nurture your company culture

When your team gets bigger, it is only natural for your employees to feel a bit lost in all the shuffle. With plenty of new connections to make, as well as shifting work responsibilities, change can have an impact on their confidence and morale.

As a business owner or manager, it is important to recognise that your people might find it challenging to adapt at first. In fact, stepping outside one’s comfort zone can be overwhelming, and it is easy to focus on the negative side of changes rather than on its possible benefits.

To limit the detrimental effects on their wellbeing, make sure your employees feel seen and supported at all times. Show appreciation for their hard work and reward people for their efforts, whether in team catch-ups or private one-to-one sessions.

Also, organize team-building activities that can get new and existing colleagues to know each other better, as it will help form stronger relationships and learn each other’s skills and strengths.

In short, don’t forget to nurture your company culture. Share your ideas and best practices with your recruits and remind your existing team about the business’ values to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

With a happy, motivated, and appreciated workforce, you can truly drive your company forward and successfully nail your scaling goals.

score diversity cultural employee compliance

The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Company Growth

Growth is essential for any business venture. This is why companies continue to discover and develop new strategies for their business growth. But we often downplay the importance of having a culturally diverse workplace as a potent tool for a company’s growth. Cultural diversity allows for a synergy of experts with various opinions, views, and ideas that can help to move a company forward. In this article, you will learn about the impact of cultural diversity on company growth:

  1. Inspires creativity and innovation:

With technological developments being introduced recurrently, innovations are becoming the new normal. Cultural diversity in the workplace helps to improve innovative processes because each employee has a different value to contribute to the process. The idea to create something new and different from scratch may come from just one team member, but the ideas from other members will help produce the best results. A company accommodating cultural diversity among its employees will likely have more innovations.

2. Improves productivity and performance:

Your company’s productivity can immensely increase if you have employees from diverse cultural groups. Being from different cultural backgrounds means that they will see things from different perspectives. Applying these diverse ideas to your business can help improve its performance, mainly because you accept its ideas. This will encourage them to do better by reaching new markets and ultimately increase your company’s profits.

3. Enhances decision-making process:

Sometimes, your company’s decision can give it a lifetime of positive reinvention. Having a team of diverse employees or business partners can help you make better and well-informed decisions. When you are stuck in the middle of trying to use a new business strategy for your company, a team of diverse people can help you with the planning and execution. They may even add better ideas to the already formulated strategy, which will lead to positive results that will benefit your company.

4. Helps the company to attract and retain the best talents:

A company that accommodates cultural diversity will have its recruitment process easy. This is because they will attract the best talents for the job and eventually retain ambitious and globally-minded people. Various research has shown that job hunters are more likely to notice the company when you stand out because of its multicultural and inclusive working environment.

5. Enables your company to serve a diverse audience:

A company that has a culturally diverse talent pool will be able to quickly offer a broader and more versatile range of products and services, primarily if they are globally oriented. You can easily leverage the skills and abilities of their diverse employees to offer more products that benefit their customers on a global level. They can easily detect gaps in the market and look for effective ways to solve such problems.

6. Higher employee engagement and reduced turnover:

Diverse companies are more likely to engage better employees with their jobs because they feel included in the system. As a company, one good way to help your diverse employees feel more productive and engaged is to organize online events where you can use simultaneous translation equipment such as FM transmitters, FM receivers, interpreter control units, etc., to bridge the language barrier. This will significantly improve employee retention and reduce employee turnover because satisfied employees feel respected and are less likely to leave their job. Employee engagement results in more productive employees and, ultimately higher profits for the company.

7. Gives your company a better reputation:

Because the world keeps evolving, issues of ethnicity, gender, religion, and race are taken very seriously. A company that embraces and accommodates diverse employees is seen as a socially responsible organization and will have more people willing to invest in the company because of its reputation. It also places such companies above its competitors. 

Dedicated employees or partners can help your company grow, but a culturally diverse work environment does the trick better. When your company accommodates individuals from different cultural backgrounds, ethnic groups, gender, and religion, there is bound to be a unification of diverse opinions and ideas that will help your company develop faster.


The Land Transport and Logistics division succeeded in closing the year with sales up 16 percent to 1,277 million euros (2020: 1,104 million

Gebrüder Weiss Post Growth Across the Board

The international transport and logistics company Gebrüder Weiss posted preliminary net sales of 2.54 billion euros for the 2021 financial year. This translates into a year-over-year rise of 43 percent (2020: 1.77 billion euros). More than 70 percent of this increase was generated by the Air & Sea business. The global shortage of cargo capacity resulted in shipping companies and airlines repeatedly raising their rates. The fact that these costs were passed on became a key contributor to the upsurge at Gebrüder Weiss, although this also created special challenges.

2021 was an exceptional year characterized by great volatility. The imbalance between low cargo capacities and high demand had a huge impact. It required considerable effort and dedication for them to deliver suitable transport solutions to their customers despite the bottlenecks.

To meet its customers’ needs in 2021, the company organized additional air freight charters by implementing “preighters,” i.e., converted passenger aircraft. The acquisition of the Ipsen Logistics operations in Germany, Poland, and Malaysia at the end of 2020 marked an important step forward for the global network. In total, the Air & Sea and Logistics division reported annual sales of 1,030 million euros (2020: 470 million euros).

The Land Transport and Logistics division succeeded in closing the year with sales up 16 percent to 1,277 million euros (2020: 1,104 million euros). To boost efficiency, Gebrüder Weiss deployed innovative technologies and strategies to handle transport planning, dispatch, and freight measurement; an intermodal link from Vienna to Germany’s Ruhr region was established. All of the Land Transport product groups set new records for consignments.

Via its Home Delivery service, Gebrüder Weiss transported some 1.74 million shipments to end consumers in Austria and multiple eastern European countries, further extending its market lead in this segment (2020: 1.37 million consignments). DPD Austria, partly owned by Gebrüder Weiss parcel service, delivered more than 66.5 million parcels in 2021. This corresponds to a 16 percent year-over-year increase; it was powered mainly by strong private-consumer business.

Robust market position in central and eastern Europe
In Bavaria, Gebrüder Weiss consolidated its southern German land transport network with a number of acquisitions. These were flanked by takeovers in Bulgaria and Turkey, while new locations were established in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and South Korea. All told, the logistics company invested 112 million euros in new construction and the expansion of existing sites (2020: 75.6 million euros) – the highest investment volume in the company’s history. The augmented network also required a larger workforce: the headcount rose by 8 percent and now totals nearly 8,000 employees.

14,500 users tap into the new myGW portal
With the goal of optimizing logistics processes for its customers, Gebrüder Weiss is turning increasingly to digital tools: “Expectations regarding speed, efficiency and transparency have risen enormously throughout the supply chain. The international rollout and further development of our myGW portal represent a major milestone,” says Wolfram Senger-Weiss. The digital platform offers customers real-time information on the flow of their goods and is already being utilized by more than 14,500 users across 19 countries. At the same time, several supply chain management projects were realized for high-profile customers. The logistics organization plans to continue growing in this area and enlarging its palette of digital services.

The Covid crisis has, however, also exposed the importance of controlling physical infrastructure. Their ‘Best of Both Worlds’ strategy – modern digital tools on the one hand and logistics facilities, cargo capacity, and well-trained employees on the other – has once again proven the right way forward

Carbon neutrality by 2030
The logistics specialist intends to achieve CO2 neutrality at its locations by 2030. In moving toward that goal, last year alone, eight photovoltaic systems were installed at logistics terminals in Austria and Germany. Further locations are due to be added this year. The company is also implementing new technologies: one of the world’s first hydrogen-powered trucks has already demonstrated its value in logistics operations, while other alternative drive technologies using liquid gas and electricity are in service for heavy goods and Home Delivery shipments. Gebrüder Weiss introduced a zero-emissions program offering its customers the option of paying a surcharge to offset the carbon emissions of each logistics service they use. These funds go towards supporting certified climate protection projects.

small business

What Every Small Business Should Be Implementing

The majority of the difficulties associated with establishing a business stem from failing to accomplish the small things correctly. The basics will lead you to the top, as any competent instructor has stated at some time.

If you’re thinking of starting a small business, make sure you follow these 10 small business rules:

1. You must keep track of your finances.

Lack of capital, is the leading cause of small business failure. You must undertake proper financial planning and fully comprehend the business levers that might affect your cash flow.

Do you purchase stock?

-What amount of cash should you have on hand?

-Do you have a system in place to collect money from clients?

-How long do you have to wait for them to pay you?

-Do you have any loans that you need to repay?

-Do you rely on suppliers whose prices fluctuate according to market conditions?

2. You must create a data-driven culture.
The better your business decisions are, the more data you can track and utilize to make them. Business often necessitates certain “intuition feel” judgments, but it’s preferable to provide your instincts with as much knowledge as possible.

Tracking your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and understanding why they rise or fall may help you make decisions that will help you develop and stay on track.

3. You must participate in Lean Planning.

Rather of creating a long-written document that you utilize once and then file away, it’s critical to create a strategic and financial plan and track it on a frequent basis.

Planning is a continuous tool that should be used to understand the assumptions you have about your business and whether or not those assumptions are valid, or whether you need to make changes and adapt your assumptions.

60 percent of small companies in America fail due to a lack of cash, not a lack of profits—by utilizing Lean Planning, you can rapidly determine if you have made any financial assumptions that will have a negative impact on your cash. Maybe you assumed you’d get paid every 30 days on the dot.

By engaging in ongoing planning and then tracking the actual results of your business against your plans, you can quickly determine if you are getting paid every 45 days, and if so, you can increase your credit line quickly and appropriately, keeping your business cash healthy—before you get into trouble.

4. You must have a strategy in place for attracting and keeping top employees.

We are continuously on the lookout for top talent in our industry, therefore we make it a point to follow talent in our region on a regular basis and design outstanding retention programs and rewards.

Take some time to consider your company’s culture and what you want it to be, and make sure that culture is factored into your recruiting selections. We utilize LinkedIn on a daily basis to follow and acquire talent.

5. Every day, you must listen online.

Even if you just operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, your business is “always on.” Every company should set up internet alerts to monitor what their customers are saying about them, their rivals, and the market in general.

Google Alerts is a fantastic (and free) tool for “listening” to what’s going on online. Be the first to know when a consumer leaves a negative review or when someone praises your company online. Use these methods to remain ahead of the conversation and capitalize on it. You need to get a business phone number too.

6. You must engage in marketing that generates a return on investment.

Small companies frequently tell us that they have no idea what marketing is. What should they spend their money on? Is it effective? Is it better to promote on the radio or on the internet? Should they believe the Groupon or Comcast salesperson who tries to persuade them to distribute discounts to the general public or buy local TV ads? What is it that works?

What does not work?

Small company operators should begin in venues that are both free and simple to access. Begin by forming relationships with local companies and company owners. Find out what it is that they do that is effective. Find out how visitors find your website and where they come from by using Google Analytics and your website.

Customers should be questioned about how they learned about you. And if you do decide to promote, make sure you know how to track it. Make a unique offer and keep track of it. Only provide one type of service or product. Repeat your successful marketing efforts after learning what works and what doesn’t. If you won’t be able to measure the results, don’t invest the money.

8. You must communicate with your clients.

Every company should communicate with its clients as frequently as feasible. If you own a retail store, talk to your customers at least once a week (if not every day). Discover what they enjoy—and what they despise.

If you own an online business, send a brief survey to your consumers or ask a few survey questions after they check out. Make a call to them. People enjoy talking and being asked for their viewpoint. Negative feedback might be difficult to hear, but it’s important to hear it and understand how you can improve your business for your consumers.

9. You need to know your competitors.

Both your direct and indirect rivals must be known and understood. You should always be aware of your rivals’ activities, including what they are doing, how they promote, and how they price their products.

You may be the only one of your kind in your town or sector, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have indirect competition. In my town, a small do-it-yourself tie-dye store has no direct competition.

They do, however, provide activity-based events and compete with all of the other businesses that host birthday parties and group activities. They also compete with other tie-dye merchants at Saturday Fairs and Markets. Even if they don’t have direct competition, they need to know how to position themselves against all of their indirect competitors.

10. You must have a larger goal in mind: a mission.

People like to work for companies that are more than a simple money-making machine. That isn’t to say that you can’t set sales or profit targets; it only means that if your employees believe they are part of a larger purpose, they will work harder and be more loyal.

Global Trade Magazine Announces Bret Ronk as Publisher

Global Trade Magazine confirmed additional members of its leadership team this week to further support the publication’s ongoing growth and client support efforts.

Bret Ronk will officially fulfill the role of publisher and VP of Sales effective November 9th, 2020. Mr. Ronk brings more than 25 years of publishing and leadership experience and will primarily support initiatives in content delivery and client support key audiences in the global business arena.

“I plan on leading the team by example and through collaboration, in order to drive the business forward and exceed market demands,” Ronk said. “My expertise lies in a multiple platform approach that provides relevant and pertinent information to our readers. This will result in providing return on investment to our customers and advertisers, as well as reader engagement.”

Mr. Ronk earned a Master’s in Business Administration, specializing in Business Management from the University of Dallas and represents a unique, dynamic, and versatile leadership style for effective, results-oriented management. For more than two decades, he fulfilled executive leadership roles for companies including McGraw-Hill Publishing, GULF Publishing, Reed-Elsevier Publishing, and The Blue Book Network.

“I am certain Bret is a great fit within our Global Trade and GSLI culture,” added Global Trade Magazine CEO Eric Kleinsorge. “The enthusiasm, character, and passion Bret brings to the table reflect the heart and soul of what company is made of. It is important to the evolving needs of global businesses that outstanding leadership is at the core of what we do. Adding Bret to our team provides a key element to achieving success for our clients,” Kleinsorge concluded.